by Ron Adkins
Heart of America Triathlon News
Organizing a triathlon is an incredible amount of work. Months of planning and coordination takes place behind the scenes before race day, before everyone gets in the still-dark morning to put it all together. And even then, it’s ‘all hands on deck’ during the race to ensure everything runs smoothly.
At each race she works, Liz Herzman of True Time Racing Services is deep in the center of all the activity.
Her official title is Registration Coordinator for two of the Heart of America series — Bluff Creek and Hickory Grove. Once every racer is checked in, says Liz, “I do odd jobs after that.” This is an understatement. Liz helps with all aspects of the race, from making sure equipment is running properly, to cutting up fruit and bagels for the after-race buffet, to assisting in timing the races.
When she takes a moment to breathe, Liz serves as ad hoc public relations director and cheerleader. No matter what she’s doing, she makes time to wish the athletes a good race, or to yell out encouragement as they pass by on the course, many of them by name. “That’s the best part of this, getting to see everybody and getting to know them,” Liz says. “I like being able to recognize these people from race to race.”
Liz is, without a doubt, a people person. Everyone gets greeted with a warm smile. If she’s ever under stress, it doesn’t show. She’s an enthusiastic supporter of the sport and a loyal advocate for each and every triathlete who competes.
“She’s definitely fun to work with,” says Alex Syllman, owner of True Time Racing and (technically) Liz’s boss. “I would be hurting without her.”
Liz and Alex don’t share the normal employer/employee relationship. The two met while still enrolled at Iowa State University. They both belonged to ISU Tri Club and Liz was race director for the Cy-Man Triathlon. After graduation, Alex started True Time and brought Liz on board as a volunteer. Because of her prior triathlon experience, she quickly joined the company as a staff member.
“They needed a woman,” jokes Liz about joining True Time. “I looked around and thought, ‘They’re such guys! They need a woman around here!”
Liz agrees that she and Alex enjoy great working and personal relationships. Although, this relationship has often been the butt of jokes. “People think that we’re married, the way we talk to each other.” In reality, Alex recently married and Liz has been married for three years.
“I’ve known Alex for over 13 years, and I dated my husband for the first ten of those,” Liz says, cracking a smile. “And Alex has never met my husband once! He jokes around saying I made him up!”
Alex has, however, met Maggie, Liz’s seven-month-old daughter.
When not being indispensable for True Time Racing, Liz teaches science at Johnston Middle School in Johnston, Iowa.
She has no intention of slowing down her involvement in tri’s any time soon. She loves triathlons, and the triathletes who compete, too much to leave the sport.